Several far-right influencers blames sickness on an “anthrax attack” after a conservative conference in Dallas, Texas.
Several QAnon and far-right influencers have blamed sickness on an “anthrax attack” after the recent conservative ReAwaken America conference held in Texas from December 9 to 11.
The Dallas event, which is part of a longer tour across several states, featured guest speakers including former President Donald Trump adviser Michael Flynn, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, and the far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, according to an itinerary for the conference.
There is no evidence to suggest that anthrax, a bacterial infection that has been used as a method of biological warfare, was present at the conference in Dallas. Symptoms of anthrax poisoning — including cough and shortness of breath — are similar to those associated with COVID-19, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says.
COVID-19 cases are rapidly spreading across the US as the highly transmissable omicron variant has become the dominant strain of the virus in the nation.
Still, multiple prominent far-right figures have circulated the baseless anthrax claims. The word “Anthrax” was trending on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon, with over 14,000 associated tweets, as users discussed the claims.
Joe Oltmann, a far-right influencer with over 60,000 Telegram subscribers who spoke at the conference, wrote on his Telegram channel on Sunday that he was “sick with what could turn out to be an anthrax attack,” as the Daily Dot first reported. Oltmann first made the claim on his podcast Conservative Daily earlier this week, according to Vice.
David K. Clements, a far-right influencer with over 142,000 Telegram followers, wrote on his channel Monday that he spoke with Oltmann and that he, Jovan Hutton Pulitzer, and “a dozen other folks that were present in the green room” at the Dallas event were “suffering from symptoms related to an anthrax attack.” Clements has shared anti-vaccine conspiracy theories and posts from supporters of QAnon, the far-right conspiracy theory movement.
Pulitzer is a right-wing radio show host and influencer who has propagated the baseless theory that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Trump.
Ron Watkins, a far-right influencer linked to QAnon who has 416,000 Telegram followers, promoted the anthrax claims on his channel on Monday, writing that Oltmann and Pulitzer were “very sick with what is suspected to be anthrax poisoning.”
While Oltmann has denied supporting QAnon in the past, according to the Daily Dot, he has frequently posted on his Telegram in support of Jake Angeli, the rioter known as the “QAnon Shaman” who was sentenced to 41 months in prison for his involvement at the Capitol on January 6.
Pulitzer tweeted on Wednesday morning baselessly claiming there was evidence to “suggest that several of us were targeted by biological agents at an event.” But on Tuesday morning, Oltmann wrote on Telegram that he spoke with Pulitzer, who had tested “negative for anthrax” and was in “and out of the hospital.”
When reached for comment, Oltmann told Insider that he “had a massive bacterial infection” and believed Pulitzer “had a similar infection.” He said he still believed “there is a strong possibility of targeting.”
Clements and Pulitzer did not respond to requests for comment.
Clay Clark, the ReAwaken America Tour’s founder, did not respond to a request for comment.
Anthrax spores, which can be found in nature or produced in a lab, can cause serious harm to humans, animals, and crops, according to the CDC. These spores “make a good weapon” for attack, according to the CDC, because they can go in water, food, sprays, or powder, and are hard to discern due to their small size.
Anthrax was used as a weapon following the September 11 attacks, when letters filled with such spores were sent around America, killing 5 people, according to the FBI.
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